Here is another possible defense for building a McMansion: just make it a net-zero home!
Blog readers in the construction market — and anyone interested in sustainability — should read up on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s net-zero test house in Gaithersburg, Md.
The 2,700-square-foot home (plus 1,500 square feet of unfinished basement) looks like a lot of the suburban McMansions built in the United States in the 1990s.
But this house is different. Thanks to state-of-the-art insulation and building products, plus a variety of solar panels, experts expect the home will produce as much energy as a family of four consumes over the course of a year…
According to Emily Badger’s story in The Atlantic (“This House Consumes Less Net Energy Than Your Little Urban Studio”), the home cost $2.5 million, although it could probably be duplicated in a suburban neighborhood for $600,000 to $800,000 — not counting the cost of the lot.
One critique of McMansions is that they consume too much energy. However, making a large house net-zero energy still leaves these possible McMansion traits:
1. It is still in a suburban neighborhood that probably requires lots of driving. Perhaps you have to buy an electric car to go with the house…
2. The house could still be considered too big; how much space does a household require?
3. Does having a net-zero home mean that suburban neighbors will suddenly start talking to each other and participate in civic organizations?
4. The house is still expensive and meant to impress people from the street.
But perhaps being a net-zero home magically blinds people from all of its other traits?